Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

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utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:29 am

I see. These same mid-size firms/litigation boutiques exist in LA/NYC etc as well, but I'm assuming you recommended Texas because of the reputation of southern firms to not impose ludicrious billable requirements? Or do they actually have a different culture that entails associates seeing trial earlier in their careers?


I recommended Texas, mainly, because the cost of living is so cheap that you can afford to work at those types of firms and still live large depending on the specific firm, of course.

Biglaw down here still works the crap out of you. It may not work you like New York or Chicago because our environment is more laid back, but they still work you. I had a classmate who had a friend who worked at the Texas based biglaw firm of Vinson & Elkins. She said her friend averaged 100 hour work weeks during her first two years. It's hard for me to believe it was that much just because that is insane. But Vinson & Elkins has always been known for being a sweat shop.

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:56 am

ksllaw wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:I totally agree. I went to Texas. Most of my classmates and most of the people on this site would be bad at relating to a jury and be bad at marketing their own firm.


utlaw2007 - I'm very curious. Did you ever take any courses in marketing in undergraduate or in graduate school?

I can see how maybe a person with a humanities background, who graduates from law school, and decides to open their own firm may not have the best marketing knowledge or skills if they never took a marketing type of course and/or aren't naturally gifted at it.

Although, a humanities curriculum does often foster expressive skills (probably more so than the sciences)...but maybe not directly related to marketing. I don't know. :?: :P

And, lastly, did you ever take any public speaking courses that helped to develop that area in preparation for trial law work? If a person leans more towards the reticent side or may not be a naturally gifted speaker, do you believe that skill can be developed to a level of proficiency that would allow them to successfully handle trial work?

Thank you so much again, champ! :mrgreen:


To answer your question, I did not take any marketing classes in school. I majored in psychology and was fairly close to deciding to get a doctorate in it like my brother did. I have a gift for marketing. God has blessed me with that gift. That does help. The thing about marketing, though, is to think long and hard about ways of getting your name out there to people who likely need your services. I spent countless hours BRAINSTORMING how to do this. My knowledge now is just the fruit of that labor. You have to ask people, you have to learn other ways so you can evaluate them for effectiveness. You have to talk about it to other people. You never know who has a good idea that you can use. Sometimes, just hearing something not intended for your business strategy will give you a good idea for marketing.

Ah, you asked the 20 million dollar question concerning the public speaking that comes with trial work. I have been blessed by God in that area, as well. My mother is a fantastic public speaker, a minister, so her genes have rubbed off onto me. My father has incredible charisma. I'm the child of those two.

But I also took drama in high school. That's a great way to overcome stage fright. I took a public speaking class while in undergrad. I don't know if it helped that much. I think you get better practice by connecting with people casually in your daily lives. Be vocal. Be kind. But have the courage to speak up and tell your version of what happened if the conversation is open to an elicitation of your observations or thoughts. You will get comfortable speaking to groups of people that way.

Can a person learn enough to be an effective trial lawyer? Of course. I don't think it's possible for someone to become one of the best in terms of learning public speaking skills. I think there has to be some talent there for that to happen. Some people just have the gift of gab. And some of those same people have a gift of explaining complex material in a manner that makes that material seem simpler. But can one learn public speaking well enough to earn a living as a trial lawyer? I think so. But if one recognizes that he/she doesn't have that talent, it is imperative that they participate in mock trial to get as much real practice with public speaking as possible. And if you can't do mock trial, become as vocal as possible concerning casual conversations that are somewhat deep. That way, you get a chance to just talk and talk to people.

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thelawyler
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby thelawyler » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:28 am

So basically, if you have not developed the skills already by the time you strike out, you're kind of fucked anyways?

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:10 am

thelawyler wrote:So basically, if you have not developed the skills already by the time you strike out, you're kind of fucked anyways?


Hi thelawyler,

Glad to see you made it over here from the other thread. :)

Communication is a skill that can be developed (and comes in handy even outside of trial law). Some may be more natural at it than others, but I do believe you can improve through practice and effort. I imagine it would be a tremendous asset in biglaw as well, where being a rainmaker requires bringing in new clients. So being able to talk to others, make them feel comfortable and appreciated, hold the other person's attention, effectively and persuasively share your ideas, and so on are all essential to being a successful lawyer. My mind keeps going back to biglaw where I've heard that the difference between being able to make partner or not is often tied to one's ability to bring in and keep business - being a rainmaker. But also just having a good book of business leading up to that point of partnership requires good business relations and communication is a very valuable asset that can separate one from their peers.

Marketing is an area I'm actually not that familiar with, but am learning more about. And it might ultimately be something that requires professional help in order to do the best job possible. utlaw2007 offered some very specific things to do and to consider (strategically) when it comes to marketing in past posts that I've found interesting.

I wonder...Would there ever be a time when commercials like these are a good idea?:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeoQsLhvDuo

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:23 pm

I wonder...Would there ever be a time when commercials like these are a good idea?:


The short answer to that question would be NO.

Sure some of these car accident attorneys get tons of business because they advertise. But they get that business from only unsophisticated clients who don't really have anywhere else to go.

The plaintiffs attorneys who are handling products liability and catastrophic personal injury cases make TONS more than these car wreck guys and NONE of them advertise like this. That's not to say that some of these car wreck guys don't make a ton of money. Some of the bigger ones make more than a million dollars a year. But those catastrophic personal injury and products liability guys that are successful are making more than a million dollars just off of ONE CASE.

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Bronte
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Bronte » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:18 am

utlaw2007 wrote:
I wonder...Would there ever be a time when commercials like these are a good idea?:


The short answer to that question would be NO.

Sure some of these car accident attorneys get tons of business because they advertise. But they get that business from only unsophisticated clients who don't really have anywhere else to go.

The plaintiffs attorneys who are handling products liability and catastrophic personal injury cases make TONS more than these car wreck guys and NONE of them advertise like this. That's not to say that some of these car wreck guys don't make a ton of money. Some of the bigger ones make more than a million dollars a year. But those catastrophic personal injury and products liability guys that are successful are making more than a million dollars just off of ONE CASE.


What about those mesothelioma ads and the like?

wk1982
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby wk1982 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:26 am

My grandpa did auto accidents on Long Island for decades, and made serious bank. Didn't work very hard either. Mostly word of mouth advertising, I think. I'd totally take his office over if he was still working.

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:35 am

Bronte wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:
I wonder...Would there ever be a time when commercials like these are a good idea?:


The short answer to that question would be NO.

Sure some of these car accident attorneys get tons of business because they advertise. But they get that business from only unsophisticated clients who don't really have anywhere else to go.

The plaintiffs attorneys who are handling products liability and catastrophic personal injury cases make TONS more than these car wreck guys and NONE of them advertise like this. That's not to say that some of these car wreck guys don't make a ton of money. Some of the bigger ones make more than a million dollars a year. But those catastrophic personal injury and products liability guys that are successful are making more than a million dollars just off of ONE CASE.


What about those mesothelioma ads and the like?


Sure, they advertise. You have to if you aren't able to get class certification or approval to head a class action as lead counsel from the court. You have to get as many plaintiffs as possible to drive up those damages. One person would be enough when you consider the amount of possible damages, but those guys are looking to pocket TENS of millions of dollars off of that one case. And they do it, too. Those guys advertise, but they don't have silly commercials to get their point across. That's the difference. You can advertise respectfully. But many of those car accident guys advertise with ads straight from a circus or comedy show

The problem with advertising like that is that you have just said goodbye to ever getting respectable cases from respectable people. A sophisticated client is not going to seek legal services from a guy who advertises like a clown and rightfully so.

When I said that the serious guys don't advertise, I meant the serious guys who have just one plaintiff in a catastrophic personal injury or products liability case. If you are trying to get multiple plaintiffs for those types of cases, then you have to advertise. But, at least, those guys do it professionally.

timbs4339
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:08 pm

I took a class taught by a top national plaintiff's lawyer. He mentioned getting mesothelioma and asbestos cases by getting in good with union leaders who could feed him dozens of cases at a time.

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:17 am

timbs4339 wrote:I took a class taught by a top national plaintiff's lawyer. He mentioned getting mesothelioma and asbestos cases by getting in good with union leaders who could feed him dozens of cases at a time.


I'm curious how networking of this sort would take place, timbs, if a person is not already friends or connected with a union leader?

Gorki
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Gorki » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:45 am

ksllaw wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:I took a class taught by a top national plaintiff's lawyer. He mentioned getting mesothelioma and asbestos cases by getting in good with union leaders who could feed him dozens of cases at a time.


I'm curious how networking of this sort would take place, timbs, if a person is not already friends or connected with a union leader?


Well, not everyone is gonna be a "top national" Ps atty. Thus many small practices go years and years and years in search of "the big one." You can't just phone up a union boss to get cases, unless you as of now are on very good terms with a union. Its a relationship that just naturally developed and paid off for that atty.... Another attorney could have a similar relationship that leads to no $$$.

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:14 pm

ksllaw wrote:^^^continued from post above^^^

One other question I have, utlaw2007. And this is only if you don't mind sharing. :lol:

Were your student loans from law school near or above the $100K range? I was ruminating over your career path and wondering whether it would be feasible with the very common $100K debt that many law graduates have nowadays. (Although, I know cost of living in Houston is relatively low, as we discussed in that other thread "Huffington Post..." ...)

Thanks so much again!


I don't think I ever answered this question. And this is probably very significant. My student loans from law school were pretty dang cheap considering it was law school. They were no more than just $67,000. So that left me with all sorts of viable career options for law. That's why I never felt it necessary to do biglaw which was good because I never wanted to do it. I always saw it as too cult like.

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typ3
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby typ3 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:32 pm

Although I'm not an attorney yet, I am soon to be third generation shit law lawyer handling consumer bankruptcies / plaintiff personal / car wrecks / negligence etc. I would rather be unemployed than work to fill the pockets of bankers and business owners.

Until the recent hike in big law partner salaries we were pulling in more per attorney than Skadden partners on car accident / plaintiff contingency cases in the fifth least populated state.

Here's a few keys to doing well: forget all the garbage they teach you in law school about how an attorney should act or behave. Act like a likeable human being that clients can trust and go the extra yard to give more than is expected (or at least appear to do more than is expected). See Gerry Spence on how to stop being an automaton.


The keys to being a successful lawyer are really quite simple. People have just forgotten the basic tenants in the pursuit of prestige, money, and in the prison known as law school.

1.) Don't say no to cases if people can pay starting out regardless as to how shitty the work is.
A. Create a repeatable system and document how to do the work the first time you do it so that later on you can have interns / paralegals handle the cases. There are many paralegals out there that are tens of times more capable than a lot of law graduates (even from t-14 schools) at handling a case and managing clients. Hire the right people for the job. Remember you're in a people / services industry. Knowing the law and being technical means nothing if you don't have clients or have clients that hate you and think you're a money grubbing, blood sucking robot. Instead of focusing solely on the client's case, talk to them about their kids, how their problem is affecting them, their grandparents-- anything that drums up a conversation you would be having if you were friends with the person outside of the office.
B. Most lawyers are attorneys at law without being attorney and counselors at law.

2.) Advertise and market (throw up a good website with content EXPLAINING the law and legal process in terms a 12 year old would understand). Include graphics explaining things. Lawyers rely on words too much. Humans are visual creatures. It's so much simpler to explain terms to a normal person with pictures than using legalese and legal jargon. Join every group / board / activity you can and talk to people and invite them out for coffee, over to dinner, etc. The key to networking is to make friends with people and also be a friend in return. It's not complicated.

Be different. Don't market like big law. Give away your time for free when people call in for an initial consultation.

Plaintiff firms / consumer firms are unsuccessful if you put garbage in like what supreme court cases or law reviews your work has been cited in. No one who hasn't been defiled by law school knows what those things mean. Consumers bite on things like $100 Million Recovered for Injured Victims. Over 500 Million dollars of Credit Card debt wiped off FOREVER! Numbers tend to work well with the middle / unsophisticated consumers. You also need to have some longer verbiage for sophisticated consumers advocating your client service availability etc and explaining in depth how things work.

Never talk down to anyone or act holier than thou simply because you have a law degree. You never know when a former client going through bankruptcy is going to lose a limb at work or be t-boned by a semi or burn up in an apartment where a landlord negligently removed smoke detectors. etc.

As a plaintiff attorney you need to have a stable repeatable side practice to get the original client contact. Once you do have a list of clients and you solve their legal issue, don't be too timid to ping them every year with a Christmas card or newsletter.

I know of a firm that started up 5 years ago that is the strongest in its market right now for plaintiff personal injury and wrongful death cases because they won over the internet market. Law firms are notoriously behind the curve for adapting to marketing changes, see a need or an opportunity and take it.

There may be more lawyers alive today than ever, but that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities for smart, innovative, people in law. Just know that you aren't going to get anywhere and move up without rocking the boat a little bit and kicking the established fat cats off their perch.

Being a lawyer is a privilege and a calling. It is not a right nor just a job. If you can accept that then you're already on your way to being a success. If you don't feel called to do real law and represent real people you won't be sustained and the practice will eat you up and spit you out.

Also Gorki's comment above about networking and union leaders is correct. Plaintiff work is a lot like fishing. Some weeks, months, years you could strike out on getting big cases. If you stick around long enough and keep pushing forward with networking and advertising eventually you'll get a good case.

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:47 pm

What's up folks? :P The Champ, Jr. is backkkk! :mrgreen:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43442917/ns ... loving-it/
Law Grads Going Solo and Loving It

Saw this "dated" article (2011) that I thought folks here may be interested in. Looks like some solos may be doing very well. Here's an excerpt:


The 37-year-old attorney earned a degree from the University of North Carolina’s School of Law in May 2009 and had his own criminal law practice up and running by the end of September. ...

“I don’t need a big copier, I don’t need a huge support staff to manage all my paperwork and I don’t need an expensive phone system,” Chetson said in a recent interview. “Basically I just need a laptop and cell phone and I’m off and running.” ...

“Law schools are not equipped to help you start your own firm,” asserted Chetson, who said he made more last year than the $150,000 to $160,000 that a mid-level associate at a big law firm typically earns.



It has some potentially useful info. re: the business side of things as well:

Digital technology is key
Everything Chetson learned about starting his own firm was self-taught. First, he set up a website, where he still attracts the majority of his clients. Then he spent the next couple of months working long days to create a website and a web presence. He also uses Google voice and efaxing software so he can manage a virtually paperless office. Maintaining a blog and being active on social networks helps him get the word out to potential clients.

For Rachel Rodgers, 29, technology is also central to her business model. ...
Last edited by ksllaw on Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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20130312
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby 20130312 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:49 pm

Gotta enjoy dat anecdotal evidence.

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:05 pm

InGoodFaith wrote:Gotta enjoy dat anecdotal evidence.


Are you aware of the joke amongst social scientists about anecdote?

As Princeton Nobel Laureate economist, Paul Krugman, has said, "The plural of anecdote is data!" :P

I actually found the article to have some cool stories and potentially useful ideas. :) Encourage you guys to check it out if interested!

LaBarrister
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby LaBarrister » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:56 am

So what is the potential in "shit law," which I would really like to refer to as street law. I don't believe there is such a thing as "shit law" for anyone who has their heart in their career. Call me sentimental, but referring to an entire profession's stratum as "shit" says more about the profession as a whole, don't you think?

Anyway, what is the upward potential of street lawyers as opposed to glamorous BigLaw lawyers?

timbs4339
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby timbs4339 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:58 am

LaBarrister wrote:So what is the potential in "shit law," which I would really like to refer to as street law. I don't believe there is such a thing as "shit law" for anyone who has their heart in their career. Call me sentimental, but referring to an entire profession's stratum as "shit" says more about the profession as a whole, don't you think?

Anyway, what is the upward potential of street lawyers as opposed to glamorous BigLaw lawyers?


viewtopic.php?f=23&t=157855&hilit=areyouinsane+document+review+paul+weiss

Read every single post by areyouinsane.

LaBarrister
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby LaBarrister » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:50 am

timbs4339 wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:So what is the potential in "shit law," which I would really like to refer to as street law. I don't believe there is such a thing as "shit law" for anyone who has their heart in their career. Call me sentimental, but referring to an entire profession's stratum as "shit" says more about the profession as a whole, don't you think?

Anyway, what is the upward potential of street lawyers as opposed to glamorous BigLaw lawyers?


viewtopic.php?f=23&t=157855&hilit=areyouinsane+document+review+paul+weiss

Read every single post by areyouinsane.


Fucking brilliant. I actually needed something to do until the wee hours of the morning besides smoke my pipe and feel like a case-less Holmes.

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rouser
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby rouser » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:28 am

is it rare to find a small firm that does mainly small business stuff?

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:04 am

A quick follow-up question I have is whether or not the defense side of trial law is as lucrative as the plaintiff's side at all?

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bk1
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby bk1 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:09 am

ksllaw wrote:A quick follow-up question I have is whether or not the defense side of trial law is as lucrative as the plaintiff's side at all?

Depends what you mean by as lucrative. The ceiling is not nearly as high due to contingency fees on plaintiff's side, but much of biglaw litigation is defense where companies pay firms big bucks.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:11 am

ksllaw wrote:A quick follow-up question I have is whether or not the defense side of trial law is as lucrative as the plaintiff's side at all?

Depends who you're defending. White collar crime? Potentially very lucrative. I'd imagine defending large companies on employment claims can pay fairly well (though this is kind of assuming you're at a large firm, which is lucrative on its own).

Also, plaintiff-side work is not always especially lucrative. Claiming employment discrimination, for instance, is not automatically the path to riches.

LaBarrister
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby LaBarrister » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:12 am

typ3 wrote: B. Most lawyers are attorneys at law without being attorney and counselors at law.


Now, I'm just being an asshole, but you do know that the word "attorney" literally means counselor, and that if one is an attorney at law, one is a "counselor at law." That's actually what the whole phrase "attorney at law" is sort of supposed to mean.

Edit: Damn quotation marks.

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:50 am

utlaw2007

Just wanted to thank you very much for taking the time to generously share with me and others here about your successful experiences in small law. I feel I've learned so much from you, in particular, (and others on other topics elsewhere) and just wanted to say a sincere and very heartfelt thanks! :D Thank you for your time and thank you for your generosity!

I will be absent from these forums for quite some time starting this weekend through my LSAT date (to concentrate) and will be also looking at other employment/career options, so wanted to just give a big thanks while things are still fresh in my mind. I don't know when/if I'll be back here at TLS.

I wish you all everyone else here lots of success and even fun in your practices! And should I ever reach a place/position of doing what you guys do successfully and can give back and share with others, I certainly would like to.

Thank you again for everything! And that goes for everyone actually. 8) :P :D




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